"Mom, we’re almost out of milk,” my 16-year-old daughter, Julia, said. “Can I drive you to the grocery store?”

Julia had just gotten her learner’s permit, and she was constantly looking for reasons to practise driving.

When I replied that I thought the milk would last another day or two, she pointed out that my coffee creamer was also running low.

We were in the car in less than 10 minutes.

Are You Listening?

Julia drove while I looked at the store’s website ad on my phone. Suddenly she tapped the brakes and yelled, “Move out of the way!”

I looked up and saw that a flock of birds were gathered on the road.

Julia honked the horn, and the birds scattered. But when she looked in the rearview mirror, she sighed.

“They all just landed back on the road. And I even slowed down and honked. It’s so frustrating. I just want to protect them, but they aren’t listening.”

Getting Our Attention

I smiled. “Keeping birds off the road sounds a bit like raising teenagers. We parents do the best we can to teach our kids to make good decisions, but once they reach a certain age, we can’t protect them from everything anymore. Parents can still give advice, but teenagers don’t always follow it.”

“I thought parenting got easier as kids got older,” Julia said.

“It’s easier because you and your siblings are more independent than when you were little, but it’s also harder because I worry about you guys more now than I did then.”

“It must be hard to watch us grow up and make our own choices,” Julia continued, “especially when you see us making some that could harm us in the future.”

“You’re right. It is hard. I love you guys and I want the best for you,” I said. “I often wish that you and your siblings could learn from the mistakes that Dad and I made when we were your age but, unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.”

Julia nodded. “We all have to make our own mistakes, I guess.”

“I wonder if God ever feels frustrated as He watches us navigate through life,” I said. “Like the good Father He is, He tries to protect us from getting hurt, but sometimes, we keep making decisions that put us in danger. It’s got to be hard for Him to watch because He loves us so much.”

“Do you think He’s yelling at us, like we yell at the birds?”

I chuckled. “I wouldn’t blame Him if He did. He’s got to get my attention somehow.”

“Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is for? God’s still, small voice that guides us?” Julia said.

Pray More, Worry Less

Her words stopped me short. Of course, she was right. God shouldn’t need to yell to get my attention because as a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives inside me. God will guide me with His still, small voice. All I have to do is listen.

I looked at Julia and smiled. “I just realized that I’ve been handing out advice to you and your siblings and then worrying like crazy when you don’t follow it. I’ve been praying that you all would listen to me, but instead, I need to pray that you recognize and listen to God’s voice when He guides you.”

Julia smiled back. “I think that means you can stop worrying about us, too.”

As if that would ever happen!

“I used to feel so powerless regarding your decisions, and that’s why I worried so much,” I said. “I’ll always worry about you, but I realize now that I was trying to parent within my own power, instead of asking God to use His power to reach you.”

Over the next few months, I reminded myself that my kids were in God’s hands and His voice guided their steps. I prayed more, which helped me worry less.

After all, worrying really is for the birds.

Illustration: Rivonny Luchas

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